Friday, June 22, 2012

My lungs VS. Your lungs.

Know your rights.

Rosie DiManno's latest diatribe in the Toronto Star includes this ominous warning. Know your rights, people, that shit is important! Know your rights at work, know your rights at school, know your rights when the cops pull you over. Knowing your rights is important, right?

Actually, DiManno is imploring smokers to know their rights. I guess odds are really stacked against smokers and society is really trampling all over their God Given RIGHT TO SMOKE.

DiManno says that while she once collected baseball cards(see, I'm an ironic cool hipster type laaaady), now she collects cigarette packages because of the mandatory gross-out images on them. She describes these images as "cancer porn" and wonders whether or not the government will be slapping "anti-obesity" ads on chocolate bars or car accident photo scenes on beer cases.

Ha, ha, cancer porn. How witty! I imagine that anyone who has had a loved one suffer from or die of cancer and watched them wither away in front of them doesn't find this quite as funny. Describing anything cancer related as porn is just plain gauche and railing against smoking regulation is childish. We live in a nation where some communities don't have clean drinking water, smoking rights should really be our last priority right now.

I digress. Back to DiManno's 'arguement'. She states that unlike American, with all of its great freedoms, Canadians were docile when it came to 'allowing' their government to force these yucky images onto them. In Canada, she writes,  we aren't as passionate about our rights and freedoms. In America, people stand up for their rights! In Canada we're more apt to just lay down and accept "infringements on individual and collective rights."

I guess that's why in American, the Land of the Free, they have health care access for all and freedom to choose abortion and be married to the person they love despite gender identity! I guess that's why in America education is affordable. In America, the government can't just "arrest you" and send you to "an army base prison" for "no reason."

Oh wait, that's Canada.

Never mind that. You know who else hated smokers and wanted to take away their rights? HITLER.
If you hate smoking and you want to stop people from smoking, you are basically as bad as Hitler.  Pregnant women were banned from smoking in Nazi Germany, you couldn't smoke on public transportation or in public places either. That means that, in DiManno's words: "So, Hitler is the patron saint of today’s nico-Nazis."


Obviously Hitler's campaign didn't work, because people know it is their right to smoke, yes? Probably it doesn't matter that people didn't understand the health impacts of smoking back then. And that smoking was heavily campaigned as a rebellious, glamorous, and sexy thing to do.

Germans didn't listen to Hitler, though, and Germany became the largest importer of cigarettes. DiManno says of the Nazi-era Germans: "You’ve got to admire such defiance. Some just won’t bend to anybody’s will, and most assuredly not to government zealotry."

Yes, choosing to smoke against government wishes was really defiant, that probably cancels out the Germans that turned their Jewish neighbours and friends in to the government. Or the Germans who participated in the genocide. They probably smoked while they walked past those frozen and starved bodies, DEFIANCE! Maybe they even lit their cigarettes on the incinerator flames. Those Germans were true rebels. FREEDOM!

I agree that people have every right to smoke. Smoke away! Smoke to your heart's content but a smoker's right doesn't trump a non-smokers right. Last week I had bronchitis and I could barely get out of bed. The few times I managed to make my way outside, to go to the doctor or pick up medication, I was bombarded with smoke. It's annoying any day to have to smell cigarette smoke on the sidewalks(because let's face it, Torontonians LOVE to smoke), but it's especially hideous when you're sick. People are more vigorous about keeping public places peanut free than they are about smoke free, despite what DiManno says.

She says that the "nine meter rule" is too vigorously applied despite the fact that it is only valid at hospitals and other health facilities. Seriously? If there's a non smoking sign outside a door,or a sign asking people to not smoke in front of a door or vent, guaranteed there will be a smoker standing there smoking. Having to move away from a door is a tiny little thing and it's a courtesy to the people who will otherwise have to walk through your cloud of smoke to get into the building(which happened to me on Monday at York University, where no smoking signs abound).

It's not revolutionary or defiant to support huge multi billion dollar corporations who make money from not only providing cigarettes(which I have no problem with), but who actively try to introduce their product into new markets, sometimes illegally-- This isn't some local business that you should support, tobacco corporations are basically evil NOT because they supply cigarettes but because everything they do is designed to make incredible profit, and if that means abusing austerity measures in nations under Structural Adjustment to destroy sustenance farming and replace crops with tobacco, then so be it.

DiManno makes smoking sound like some kind of revolutionary right. It's not. You can smoke, you can buy cigarettes, you can smoke in public places, what else do you want? You know what most people want? Health. They want their parents not to die of lung cancer. They want their kids asthma to not flare up in the park because a bunch of hipsters feel the need to chain smoke while they drink PBR. Smoke away, it's allowed, but like any other human who is doing anything else, be cognizant of the people around you.

Consideration, understanding your effect on the people around you, not being selfish. Those are revolutionary and defiant ideas, not the idea that you should be able to smoke whenever and wherever you feel like just BECAUSE. If smokers truly want to be defiant, they should demand a more sustainable product that is not grown on the exploitation of land and people. Don't just whine about not being able to smoke at the hospital, DiManno, use your platform to do some good in this world instead of just making it a more annoying place for us all to live.

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